AURORA | With three big brothers who graduated from Denver East, Cherokee Trail’s David Thornton had some extra motivation when the Angels arrived for Tuesday night’s non-league boys basketball contest.
Thornton earned some bragging rights with his siblings with his performance, as he scored 11 of his team-high 19 points in the fourth quarter to help the Cougars deal a rare in-state loss to defending Class 5A state champion Denver East.
Junior Ronnie Barfield added 14 points, senior Drequez Harvey — a former Denver East player — chipped in 10 and sophomore Jaizec Lottie added nine as Cherokee Trail posted a 67-54 victory over the Angels, who were ranked fourth in the Associated Press 5A poll that came out earlier in the day.
“It’s exciting; my brothers went to East so I had to show out and do something,” said Thornton, who had his second-best scoring effort of the season. “I’m going to go home and brag about it to them. We beat your school, what’s up?”
A win over Denver East is something that cherished by Colorado teams, as no in-state team had beaten the Angels since Eaglecrest did it in the 2012-13 5A state championship game on March 16, 2013.
Denver East — which got a 37-point effort from senior Brian Carey, but just 17 from 11 others players — had won 20 straight in state, including a 17-point win over the Cougars last season, but dropped to 1-1 on the season.
Coach Morgan Gregory’s Cherokee Trail team improved to 2-2 during a grueling non-league opening portion of the schedule that included a 1-2 performance at the Chaparral/ThunderRidge Tip Off Classic.
Most importantly for the Cougars — who are heavy on juniors and sophomores — finishing a game against an opponent like Denver East marked a big step forward in maturity. Several similar games got away last season, a big part of the team’s 9-15 record.
Cherokee Trail never trailed in the game and led by as many as 16 points, but managed to hold off any runs the Angels made in the second half, despite making just 12-of-23 free throw attempts.
“Coach always tells us and he said it again at halftime, we have to come out and finish this game,” said Lottie, who scored all nine of his points in the second half. “Last year, we would have figured out a way to throw that game away, but this is a different year.”
Carey — the lone returning regular from last season’s championship team — scored his 37 in a variety of ways, but needed nearly 30 shots to do it. No other Angel scored more than six points, while Cherokee Trail got six or more points from five different players, including a big 10-point burst from Harvey in the first half.
“Our main goal was to stop Brian, because we knew if we did that, we would win the game,” Barfield said. “He had a great game, but we still stopped them. …This is really big. We’ve played them since I was a freshman and we’ve always lost, but we finally got the win this year.”
Courtney Oakes is Sports Editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel
CHEROKEE TRAIL 67, (4) DENVER EAST 54
Score by quarters:
Denver East 7 15 14 18 — 54
Cher. Trail 13 14 17 23 — 67
DENVER EAST (54)
Jordan Willis 1 0-0 2, Deron Harrell 2 0-0 4, Brian Carey 11 10-12 37, Edmond Meyers 0 0-0 0, Ben Potts 0 0-0 0, Joseph Abiakam 2 2-4 6, Koa Peterson 1 1-1 3, Kenney Mackey 0 2-2 2, Wesley Ogsbury 0 0-0 0, Hassani Moore 0 0-0 0, Scotty Wiese 0 0-0 0, Aaron Brines 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 15-19 54.
CHEROKEE TRAIL (67)
KJ Sapp 1 2-4 4, David Thornton 7 5-7 19, Jaizec Lottie 4 5-11 9, Ronnie Barfield 7 0-1 14, Izaiah Lottie 3 0-0 6, Drequez Harvey 4 0-1 10, Isaiah Gilbert 0 0-0 0, Ammon Johnson 1 0-0 3, Jordan Rodgers 0 0-0 0, Brandon Scott 1 0-0 2. Totals 27 12-23 67.
3-point field goals — Denver East (5): Brian Carey 5; Cherokee Trail (3): Drequez Harvey 2, Ammon Johnson. Total fouls — Denver East 23, Cherokee Trail 16. Fouled out — None. Technical fouls — None.